Autonomous technology has the potential to transform the maritime sector, from commerce to warfare.
However, as autonomous vessels become smaller, more complex and capable of cooperating within larger squads, one major limiting factor remains; every vehicle, every sensor, every payload still needs a human at the end of a communication link to control or monitor it.
Thales in the UK, in partnership with the University of Southampton, has been working to break that fundamental “one person, one vehicle” link. They aim to make the human a supervisor instead of a controller, able to run complex operations with multiple autonomous vessels.
Thales and the University of Southampton have developed a demonstration software package, the Integrated Mission Management System (IMMS), to experiment on this theme. IMMS offers a common interface, connecting individual vehicles and their payloads, with a human interacting at squad level.